How bad do tattoos hurt? Foot Rib Wrist Back…

By | October 28, 2009

Do Tattoos Hurt are they Painful

We get the question all the time, “How bad does a tattoo hurt?”  They ask about their feet, ribs, wrist, chest and back the most. The problem is everyone has a different pain tolerance. For most people, the pain is more intense on your lower back and feet; this is because there is less fat there then other parts of your body. A good rule of thumb is the bonier the skin, the more it will hurt.

Tattoos on your wrist will tend to hurt the least for the most part, just ask Nicole Richie the “VIRGIN”.  If you are planing on getting a tattoo on your chest do not worry about the pain, its not bad at all. Women have mostly fatty tissue in the breasts, so the pain is very minimal. For men the pain is a bit more intense. But once again it will depend on your tolerance to pain.

Now that last body part. How bad does a tattoo on your foot hurt?!? If you have a low tolerance, you want to try and avoid places on your body that have thin skin and a lot of nerve endings. I am sorry to say that your feet fit both these descriptions. A big variable depends on what the size the design is, which means the length of time it will take to finish the tattoo.

Most tattoo shops will have a topical numbing agent if you choose to take away from the pain a bit. But for most of us, being stabbed thousands of times with a little needle will cause pain, but that is part of the experience. When you start feeling pain your body will release endorphins into your system which will numb the pain.

Let us know about your experiences getting tatts, leave us a comment!


62 Comments

amy barton on November 19, 2009 at 6:19 am.

im gettina tattoo on my foot about 8cm long will that hurt ?? x

Andrew on November 19, 2009 at 8:26 pm.

Amy, where on your foot are you getting it? But generally it is a bit painful. This is because there is not much tissue or fat on your food. Plus your feet have tons of nerves.

BTW, what are you getting?

Jess on December 9, 2009 at 1:28 pm.

i am wanting 3 stars + my 3 initials (only small) on my inner wrist,, do you think it will hurt alot?

Andrew on December 10, 2009 at 5:36 pm.

It will hurt a bit. When I got my tattoos on my wrist it just felt like I was getting an IV put it a bunch of times. But after the first few pokes you will be fine!

Send us in a picture when you have it done, we will post it!

Taylor on December 23, 2009 at 5:14 pm.

My foot tattoo was probably the most painful that I have. It hurt terribly right from the start. Whereas, on my back, it started out not too bad and progressively became agonizing.

Brandi on February 27, 2010 at 5:47 am.

I have two tattoos….one on each leg of my daughters names….the first one hurt because he kept havin to stop….imma bleeder….my second tat of my youngest daughters name wasnt as bad though I’m sure later she’ll be like oh mom why is sissys in color and mines not….well sweetie lets go get u a tat with lots of colors so when they stop to change colors you’ll find out why lol not really…but yeah….I wanna get another tat on my lower back not sure of what exactally yet….but i know once i see it it will feel fit…like my daughters tats i have…i had an elephant put with my oldest daughters name she was born with cerebral palsy n heart conditions when i was 2 months pregnant in a car wreck with her father…after she was born i bought her a purple elephant and a bright yellow rhino….even though most babies go for the bright colors….she always played with the elephant so it just felt right <3….as for my second daughter…she has 2 middle names the 2nd middle name is rose…so i got a stenciled rose with her name…it looks very neat plus I like roses too….pics are on my myspace of them since im not sure how to post pics on here lol http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewPicture&friendID=417207111&albumId=1346721

Nicki on March 18, 2010 at 5:08 pm.

I have8 tattoos, on my legs, lower back, inside arm, upper arms and just recently on my foot. Out oif all my tattoos the foot hurt the most. Yea I know you may say how could I say it hurts and I have 8, but my foot was swollen for almost 2 days and now that the swelling has gone down my foot still hurts and it has been “almost” a week. Basically because I had to go back to work and I have been constantly up and down on it. But I love it over all..

Nicolaa on March 26, 2010 at 5:12 am.

I have four tattoos, (3 stars on my hand, shhh on my finger, initials on my arm and initials on my wrist) out of them all my wrist and finger were the worst!

Jenica on May 13, 2010 at 6:31 pm.

I’m getting the Tree of Life with the ohm symbol in the tree and a swallow by the branches., i was thinking of getting it between my shoulder blades. Is that a pretty sensitive place?

Tiffany on May 18, 2010 at 12:50 pm.

i am 17 and i weigh 100 lbs im getting a tiger tattoo on my lower back. i already have one on my hand and another on my lower waist, how bad will my back hurt?

Vixxx on June 24, 2010 at 12:09 pm.

I have a 3 by 3 inch Metallica ninja star on my left shoulder blade. I had numbing cream, but it had worn off after a few minutes. The tattoo hurt a litle bit, more so at the top of my shoulder and as it got nearer my spine. The pain was all part of the experience!

I’ve just booked my next tattoo for this Sunday, i’m having my partners name on my wrist, in the Metallica font. I am slightly nervous, but i’m sure i’ll live.

After all, i’ve been through a four day labour!

tina on June 30, 2010 at 1:52 pm.

I am planning on getting a dragon tattoo that wraps around my ankle and slightly down my foot. Should I prepare for an agonizing time? It will be my first one so am a little nervous. But figure if I’m gonna get one get one I will love.

Evans on July 3, 2010 at 2:13 am.

I’m a tattoo artist in Alabama, and we get asked these types of questions all the time. Yes, tattoos hurt; and no, it’s nothing you can’t take. You’re tougher than you think you are; the pain is partially in the head, so to speak. 

Another factor that most people don’t think about, though, is whether or not the artist is heavy-handed. There’s no reason to dig in someone’s skin with the needle, guys. Really. If the person doing your tattoo is an elite tattoo artist (vs. a “tattooist”, or even worse, a “scratcher”), then your tattoo won’t hurt as bad as you think it will. 

A couple of things to consider, though, especially if you’re planning out your first tattoo: 1) go talk with several different artists. The artists who are the best are usually the ones who are friendly and willing to answer any questions you may have. Also, ask to see their portfolio; again, any GOOD artist will be more than willing to show you. 2) if it IS your first, be sure to eat a decent meal before-hand. The tattoo experience is somewhat traumatic to your body. Your nerves freak out, and many people experience a slight drop in blood sugar (even non-diabetics). Also, tattoos tend to hurt more if you are very tired or stressed out.

Finally, as far as what hurts the most. The majority of our customers say that the ribs hurt the absolute most, followed by lower hip(front), inside of the bicep, and the front of the lower leg (shins). We actually don’t have many people at all complain about the inside of the wrist, though. Also, different colors bring different levels of pain. As a general rule, the lighter the color, the worse the pain.

Enough ranting, I’ll let you guys get back to your day. Hope this helps!! http://www.myspace.com/8ball_revink for more info.

Nimajneb on August 1, 2010 at 11:16 pm.

This website and everything on it is total BS! I’ve gotten tattooed all over my body, around 70 or 80 hours worth of tattoos. There are no real guidelines for pain, it is more a state of mind. Don’t be a puss about it, just get the tattoo you want, where you want. A few minutes of discomfort shouldn’t effect a descision about how you will look for the rest of your life!

Katie on August 26, 2010 at 3:53 am.

I don’t know how many females you’ve talked to with chest tattoos but that shit is painful. Doesn’t matter how much fatty tissue yo have it’s going to hurt. I have my whole chest tatted and it was super painful on the sternum and clavicle.

katdavidson on September 6, 2010 at 1:05 pm.

I’m going in for my first tattoo this coming saturday for my 18th birthday. I really want a frog on my foot but it has alot of small details in it and will probably have to be kinda large. based on the info i’ve read from other sites the foot is going to hurt pretty bad. i’m not sure that i shold get this as my first tat or not… any advice at all??

Meagan on January 1, 2011 at 4:22 pm.

I have a half sleeve on my right arm which was okay the first couple of hours but after that it got quite annoying. I have a small one on my lower back and on my ankle that were cake. The one on my hip was the worst feeling.

Sarah on February 18, 2011 at 10:08 pm.

I have 3 pieces. 2 on my back which are smaller and one large piece on my foot. For my foot, I have a large rose with the name “graypa” under it which represents my late grandfather. I agree with the people who say that it hurts worse when it hits bone. I have a heavy handed artist but he is good at what he does. It took about 2 hrs to get the detail on my foot done and it looks amazing….I just didn’t breath for most of it. I sat there and tried to think about everything from a dang pony to hawaii!! The top of my foot where the bones meet was the worst. Now on the side where there was more tissue, it actually kind of felt good. I think it may be because the top felt SO bad though. I will be the first to admitt that I am a #1 CHICKEN!!! I may not have been breathing the whole time but it was worth every second of the pain. If you want to piece of art bad enough, you will take the pain!

Taylor Harris on April 8, 2011 at 10:35 pm.

i am 19 and i have 7 tattoos i have onne on my lower back and on the top of my back one on my wrist one on my shoulder that run down to a lil bit above my titts and i got one one my foot and one behind my ear and one on my lower stomach…..and out of all those the one behind my ear hurt the worst and it didnt even take that long

shithead on May 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm.

Well, I’m 16 and few days ago I got my first tattoo on my left wrist. I was expecting something worse, but it was actually quite pleasing (no, I’m not a masochist :D )
Pretty soon I’m gonna get more tattoos, It’s very addictive ;)

Sara on May 29, 2011 at 12:36 am.

I’ve got a few tattoos and so far the one on my lower back was the most painful, that was my first tattoo and it was quite a big one for a first timer, almost put me off getting others lol. I also found my wrist one a little uncomfortable but that was a lot easier to handle than my back, I thought the one I had done on my shoulder would of been worse my wrist but madly enough I was wrong. Thinking of a large tat down my ribcage next but REALLY not looking forward to that one:$

Kelsey on June 16, 2011 at 11:21 pm.

i have a peace sign tattooed on my right foot that takes up the entire top of my foot and its about two centimeters thick. it was painful, i turned two of my friends hands purple, but it wasn’t intolerable. i smoked like five cigarettes during the break between outline and shading and once the shading started, my entire foot went numb and i was fine.

its not as bad as most people think. i think i scared myself into the pain i actually did feel. the majority of it felt good and i have tiny, bony feet. the only part that was bad was the edge of my foot towards my pinky toe. i literally took two different breaks from shading because i think it hit a nerve that made ma twitch hah

definitely go for feet as the first one. if you can survive a foot tattoo, the rest are pretty much cake. its one of the most painful places depending on your pain tolerance. but i say always get the worst one first. the one you think is going to hurt the most you should do first because then you wont be so afraid of pain youve never felt.

hope this helped!!

Gabby on June 21, 2011 at 10:51 am.

I got a tattoo on my foot about 4 months ago. Now I want one on my side but it will be partly on my ribs. If it didn’t hurt me to get my foot tattooed, will it hurt to get my ribs? Or is the pain amount about the same for both?

sarah on July 10, 2011 at 4:41 pm.

there is really no way to answer that i have 7 tattoos. I have a vine flower on my left foot a butterfly on my right foot a tribial design on my lower back a music note on my left hip and a sun and a moon on both my ankles and my daughters name on my wrist i am getting my full back peice this week. Everyone has different levels of pain tolerance. If i had to answer my feet and my lower back hurt the most and it wasent the actuall tattoo on the feet that hurt it was the healing process that was worse but if you want a tattoo bad enough it will be worth the pain just make sure you are going to like it for a life time after all its going to be there the rest of your life .

Cam on August 2, 2011 at 8:32 pm.

I’m planning on getting a tree of life tattoo in between my shoulder blades will it hurt??

Rachel on September 19, 2011 at 6:32 am.

I have two tattoos and am about to get another one in a little over a week. My first tattoo is 0n the bottom of my stomach under my belly button. That one didnt hurt at all cause there is fat there lol As for my second one, Its between my shoulder blades. It started out not so bad, just a little annoying, and then as i got further and further into the tattoo i just wanted to die. I wanted to pass out and wake up when it was done. It started to get this burning sensation and it got worse and worse. I litterally felt like i was in hell, my palms were sweating, and i almost wanted to hypervenilate. I could feel the vibrations from the ink gun in the center of my chest, ribs, and arms, it was a very awkward feeling, Combined with the pain it sort of made me nacious. After it was done, it felt like a really bad sun burn for an hour or so, and i felt like i had had every ounce of energy drained from my body. Im a little scared to find out what im getting myself into with up coming tattoo. Im going to have Psalm 27 on the left side of my lower back and Psalm 56 on the right side of my lower back. If it hurts, atleast the tattoo wont take very long:)

Brittany on October 23, 2011 at 10:43 am.

I’m 18 and have 2 tattoos. One on my left shoulder, and the other below my ribs on my side. My shoulder was a breeze, it was first just a breast cancer ribbon, and about a week later, i got “Hope” above it, even though my ribbon wasnt completely healed, I was fine. About a month later, I got a treble cleft on my side. That was the worst pain I have ever felt. But, soon enough it was done, and it was worth the 20 mins of pain. I’m planning soon to get my third tattoo, on my lower back, of my girlfriends initials. Big step, yes, but we’ve been together 2 years, and I’m not the type of person who regrets things. But really, it is all about your pain tolerance. Nobody is the same. It’s worth every single bit of the pain, & I promise, you’ll want more. (:

Emily on December 5, 2011 at 7:09 pm.

I’m 15 and I’m planning on getting my first tattoo(s) on the inside of my wrists. I’m getting “Mad as a Hatter” on the right, and “Thin as a Dime” on the left. I can’t really get one without the other. Do you think this is going to hurt a lot? Please comment! I need answers! Don’t be afraid to go into detail.
-Thanks:)

matty c on December 12, 2011 at 4:35 pm.

i have 6 tattoos the most extreme being the one in my armpit, it hurt like someone burning me with a hot needle. I’m not being macho it did really hurt but the pain was exquisite, almost something to be savored… i don’t know what that says about me but trust me a tattoo is nothing you cant handle and the pain is worth it if you choose wisely…

matty c on December 12, 2011 at 4:37 pm.

sorry i forgot to add the tattoo only hurts on the spot where the needle is, its not like a shoulder tattoo makes your whole back hurt…

matty c on December 12, 2011 at 4:40 pm.

To Emily: you’re only 15 so think very carefully before getting any ink done. i have to say after getting my 1st tatt done i kinda got addicted and ended up getting 2 more within a month one of which i hate now. Good luck :)

Tylerrrr on December 16, 2011 at 11:24 pm.

im thinking of getting :
“I am one voice amidst the shouts of many.
I cry for those without a voice.
for those who don’t know that they have a choice”
somewhere on my body.
where would it hurt least

Lydia on December 18, 2011 at 12:49 am.

I wanna get a tattoo on my shoulder blade/upper shoulder would that hurt? I’m thinking itll be around 2 or 3 inches long and a couple inches wide. Thanks

Linda on January 14, 2012 at 11:35 am.

I’m 16, and I need someones opinion on what it’s like to have a tattoo behind their ear? Because I want my name behind my ear but I’m scared whether a its going to hurt or not? And I want a tattoo on my third finger saying ‘Love’ or like rihanna’s one saying ‘shhh..’ help me?!!

Alex on January 15, 2012 at 5:44 am.

I just got my wrist done and it hurt pretty bad but I have a low pain tolorence

Rae on January 24, 2012 at 7:13 pm.

I’m planning on getting a 4 worded quote tatted right underneath my left collarbone. Actually I’m not entirely sure if I want it on top or below my collarbone…
Since it’s my first tat, I’m trying to gauge the pain that I’m signing up for.

Amanda on January 29, 2012 at 3:14 pm.

I’m getting my first tattoo in June after schools over. I’m planning on getting something musical and having it wrap around my ankle, if I have it start at the base of my ankle and the top of my foot would it still hurt as bad? My mom has a lot of tattoos and said that none of hers hurt, but her foot, so I don’t want to get it on my foot anymore.

Jamie on February 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm.

im gonnna get my name tattooes on my toes. just wondering how bad you reckon it would hurt. first tattoo btw

nicole on February 4, 2012 at 2:31 am.

Jus got a foot tatoo the pains unberable

Chris on February 6, 2012 at 1:00 am.

I (man) have a foot tattoo and the pain wasn’t to bad for most of it. There were a few points the pain was rough but largely not that bad.

Tattoo Supplies on February 8, 2012 at 3:14 am.

Wrist and ribs are sensitive body parts for tattoo, on these parts tattoo hurts more compare to other body part.

Kristi on February 15, 2012 at 11:34 pm.

I’m 20 and I have 3 tattoos. My first was a quote on my shoulder, took 15 mins and it was done. The shoulder didn’t hurt me at all! The second is a tiger face in a butterfly shape (if that makes any sense at all!) on my lower back… it took 2 hours. We had to stop when the outlining was done so I could take a break due to my legs twitching. lmao. My 3rd tattoo is on my inner wrist, it’s my sons name and birth date. This one also took 15 mins and it was finished, also didn’t hurt. I’ve got my next tattoo planned and I know it’s going to hurt about the same as my lower back did- it’ll be on my ribs. Of course tattoos are going to hurt…it’s needles poking into your skin extremely fast. If your young and about to get your first tattoo, take the time to think about something that you don’t mind having on your body for the rest of your life. Also, they are extremely addictive!! :)

Andrew H on March 18, 2012 at 5:41 am.

All of you 15-17 year olds shouldnt even be thinking of getting a tattoo, reasons being your too young no professional will tattoo you not even with parental supervision.. I’m 19 I have a grim reaper with feathered wings and grave stones etc on my inner forearm, I got a sleeve of a chinese dragon with mountains etc, a reaper on my back and on my left Arm a dragon wrapped around a sword, all of which don’t hurt, the only time it bothered me is sitting there for like 5-6 hours..

brittney on March 28, 2012 at 1:15 pm.

im thinkin of gettin a tattoo but i dont knw where to but it at…

Amanda on March 31, 2012 at 3:18 pm.

So I’m 22 and I have 15 tattoos I’m planning on doing my whole back but alil iffy about it considering im so skinny, I have both my ribs done and that was by far the worst pain I ever experienced and they are pretty big pieces they go from my lower stomach up to above my hip and all the way up my ribs. So hopefully my back won’t be as bad. If anyone has their bak let me know how painfull it was

Brittany on April 1, 2012 at 6:56 am.

Im 14 and I got my first tattoo on my left shoulder blade last year, Im planning on getting another for my birthday which will be on my chest. Will the pain be any worse than on a shoulder?

Heather on April 1, 2012 at 8:25 pm.

Do you have any tips for first timers, as far as pain and anxiety? I’m sure it sounds silly, but I am DEATHLY afraid of needles (getting an IV, I generally have to be pinned to the bed), but this tattoo means absolutely everything to me.
It’ll be on the inside of my left wrist, about an inch and a half away from the base of my hand, if that makes any difference..

Thanks!

Ashley on April 11, 2012 at 7:50 pm.

I just got my first tattoo 3 days ago all along the top of my foot. Everyone kept telling me how painful it would be, but I laughed the whole time I got the tattoo done. If your a first timer I would say to take an mp3 player to listen to so that you can get your mind off of the pain. It also helps to keep your mind on something else other than the pain. If you can’t handle pain well, than I don’t think getting a tattoo is for you unless you can find the courage to suck it up. After it is all done, it will be worth any amount of pain.

leanne on April 13, 2012 at 12:26 am.

i have 3 tats. didnt think the one on my foot really hurt my worse one was the side of my hand going on to my palm. getting a rib tat next. does anyone know how that one is?

Amy on April 17, 2012 at 8:33 am.

Im getting a tattoo on my foot for my 18th, can anyone give me any advise on how to block out the pain and is it true that you can’t walk for a few days :)

Bri on April 27, 2012 at 3:31 am.

Well i’m supposed to be getting my first tat on friday (tomorrow) it will be on my wrist! Lookong at the comments, im kinda nervous!

Seana on May 9, 2012 at 3:40 pm.

I have a tattoo between my shoulder blades my putter thigh the tops of both feet and behind my ear and the feet are the worst and a bit of advice go to some one who’s been tattooing for like 20 years so they don’t get messed up like me I have to have my feet redone by a professional and I would have to say ill tattoo behind my ear any day before I tattoo my feet again

Asher Jones on May 11, 2012 at 3:58 am.

Rib tattoo and back tattoo…..It kills you man!!

sarah on May 18, 2012 at 5:16 pm.

hi guys
i got my tattoo on monday and i loved it the first 5 mins hurt but after that it didnt i feel to sleep whlist getting it do. the first 3days are the worst cause you get the itchyness and you feel the pain when you go into the heat well i did. iv been puting vaseline on it when i get a shower then wipe it of and put some benpanthal ( baby cream for baby bums) its really good stuff you can buy it anyways. the cheapest place to get it is boots a £1.78. im deffently thinking of getting another tattoo even though i start this was going to be my first and last. the tattoo iv got is a love heart on my left shoulder with my parnters name in

stormi on May 26, 2012 at 8:47 pm.

Idk I got my entire right side tatted from bottom of hip to right below my boob and everybody told me it would be the worst pain. 4 hours and It didn’t hurt until after we took a break when my skin had a chance to rest and swell after that he finished it up and those 30 minutes sucked like an irritation pain but never excruciating. I think its all just a personal pain tolerance level for people. But don’t let someone tell you oh yeah that’s gonna be the worst pain you’ve ever felt! No it won’t be. It’s never going to be pleasent but if you go in freaking out with high anxiety just because of something someone told you, you just making it worse for yourself. Relax. Bring a couple magazines. Enjoy the ride. I was alone for my side tat so I spent my four hours reading my artists tat magazines or talking to him about crazy stuff he’d tated or crazy people he tated. And the worst spot I’ve found so far to get tat is ankle. Now that one did hurt. But only for 30 mins now I’ve got it for a life time. You first timers just gotta relax! Stop letting people freak you out.

Jessica on May 29, 2012 at 8:46 pm.

I got my first tattoo on my wrist and it didn’t hurt like I thought it would. It was more like a stinging/burning feeling. It was bearable.

Claris on July 6, 2012 at 4:28 am.

Tommorow – at 10 am im going to get my tattoo… on my foot.
i hate needles , but its just the idea of getting pricked… so i took a needle last night , and pricked myself on my foot as hard as i can… if getting a tattoo feels like that.. its the most irratating feeling i ever felt.

so i guess it wont be that bad. at least i hope.
im very nervous and i hate pain… but – no pain no gain.
the tattoo artist told me it wont hurt that bad its like an itching sensation , i will get used to it after 30 minutes.

excited and nervous… god i cant wait!!

Rhi on August 7, 2012 at 1:50 am.

I have somewhere around 40 tattoos in many different spots all over my body. I have my entire chest, almost complete surface area of the tops of my feet, shins, wrists, back, neck, forearm and biceps. Yes tattoos hurt, but if you want something bad enough you cope with the pain. Out of everything I have my shins were the worst, but like a few people have stated everyone has a different pain tolerance. I have no plans on stopping until I run out of canvas. I love my tattoos and I live My Life with No Regrets! Hope what I have shared helps.

Taylor on September 1, 2012 at 10:26 pm.

I have a tattoo on my foot, and I’m adding onto it soon, so almost the entire top of my foot will be covered.
Honestly, my foot was bearable until the outer portion where it is mostly bones. At that point, I was ready to cry!

I’m ready for my first rib tattoo to be done in a few weeks! Then, I’m having a huge piece done on my other side/back.

No regrets with my tattoo choices and decisions. All have meaning to me.

ZaK on November 21, 2012 at 4:00 am.

I have a tattoo on my chest which goes slightly round my nipple! that is effing painful! and the ribs area is shyt too! the rest is ok

John on February 8, 2013 at 2:33 am.

It really is all about pain tolerance. I’ve got a full sleeve on my left arm, and three pieces on my right arm, one of which is color in my ditch and part of my elbow, I fell asleep on my inner bicep, until he went over my nerve. I hated my ditch more than my elbow, wrist, and bicep. But the work on my feet take the cake by far. Took 3 hours on each foot to finish, all in one appointment. But it really isn’t anything you can’t take. Just gotta relax.

Haley on March 22, 2013 at 12:49 pm.

My back piece hurt on my spine, in fact, it felt like someone held a lighter to my skin. Parts of my shoulder blades tickled, but for the most part, the feeling was just annoying. Long lines hurt, too, so if you don’t have a high pain tolerance, choose something without very many long lines. Fancy script typically hurts the worst. Color shading is something that many people cannot tolerate. I would compare it to someone taking a nail and running it over your skin multiple times.

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